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Most Asked Questions
- Ceres designs highly efficient grow environments, leading to higher yields, lower operating costs, and better quality plants
- Ceres uses the most durable and highest quality materials in order to allow for longevity for the life of the greenhouse
- Ceres cares about client success, providing support from the build through operations and beyond
- Modular greenhouse design enables unlimited future expansion and total biosecurity
- Offering a variety of Standard Kits with customizable solutions
- Devoted to ongoing innovation with the intention of providing the most energy efficient solutions out there
- Data Monitoring and Grow Optimization services for the most productive grow environments
This varies by your climate and your desired indoor growing temperatures. (An energy-efficient greenhouse has a much greater payoff if you need a warm, year-round growing environment and / or have very harsh climate). We can provide an energy analysis to calculate your energy savings, or provide more information on energy savings if you send us an email with your location and growing goals.
Your options for building a greenhouse depend on, the size and complexity of the project, and whether you doing the work yourself or hiring it out. Generally, your options are:
- Design and Build Yourself
You can take advantage of our book — The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse — and our consulting services. We can review your design, or provide some pointers
- Use Ceres engineered designs and hire out the labor. In this case you can utilize our pre-engineered greenhouse designs, or custom design and engineering services. You can then hire a local contractor to build the greenhouse, an easy task once you are set up with the right plans.
- Hire Ceres to design and build. We provide turn-key installation for our commercial greenhouses, and construction management services for residential greenhouses in many areas. If you want to be completely hands-off, please contact us about your options.
Yes, we provide tours of our residential and commercial greenhouses in the Boulder / Denver area in Colorado. If you are in that area, we would be happy to take you for a tour to see in person how an energy-efficient commercial greenhouse looks and operates. Please contact us to schedule a tour.
A year-round solar greenhouse needs access to light particularly in the winter months. Areas that allow sufficient year-round light, with minimal shading in the winter are best. More of our recommendations are given in our blogs on the topic:
A sealed greenhouse will work in any climate. This is the best option, as it allows for precise control over the environment and all systems involved. This option is more expensive, so it might not be the best option depending on what you plan on growing, and what your goals are.
We also offer vented greenhouses. A vented greenhouse will work for some of the year, but the exact time period will depend on your specific location, what you plan to grow, and what systems you chose to incorporate.
Ceres energy-efficient greenhouses range in cost from $35 to over $200 per sq. ft. We provide custom quotes for our greenhouses because every project is slightly different. Several factors influence cost, including:
- Size. Larger greenhouses have a lower cost per sq. ft.
- Whether pursuing a custom design
- Whether you need a building permit (requires stamped structurally engineered plans, which we can include)
- The growing and climate control systems you are adding
Because each greenhouse is slightly different, we work with you to find the best, most cost-effective method of building for your needs. Please contact us for a free quote.
There are two options for an off-grid greenhouse:
- Design a passive solar greenhouse. This is a structure that does not use electricity, and is inherently off-grid. Instead of electrical fans, a passive solar greenhouse uses passive vents and thermal storage methods. We work with people on designing passive solar greenhouses, but most of our clients add electricity to the greenhouse for greater climate control. Much more information on passive solar greenhouse design is in our book, The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse, and you can get in touch with us if this your preferred design. While this may work well for Residential greenhouses, it may be harder to run a commercial greenhouse in this fashion.
- Our greenhouses can be off the grid by using PV panels and batteries to create and store electricity for later use. It is important to start with a greenhouse system that has low energy consumption to begin, to reduce the investment and maintenance of the energy creation systems, like PV panels. Propane or diesel generators are also an option to provide power to greenhouses when they need heating, cooling, or any other electrical need.When an electric grid connection is possible it is advisable to create a net-zero greenhouse by using PV panels to create electricity, feeding the grid electricity at times when it is needed (usually peak mid-day in the summer), and using that electricity itself when it is needed most by the greenhouse (during the winter and at night). This is the best combination of maximized greenhouse performance with minimal environmental impact.
- The Sunchamber™ requires three-phase power in order to power the Ecoloop® system. While it is possible to run this system off-grid, it can be difficult to find enough storage for the collected energy.
- We recommend contacting us about your project, and reading more about getting started with integrating solar panels in our blog, 5 Tips for Designing a Solar-powered Greenhouse.
This varies greatly by location, and what you are trying to grow. In areas with mild winters, passive solar greenhouses can grow year-round without any back-up heating. Greenhouses in cold areas can even grow very hardy crops year-round without heating, as Eliot Coleman has proved on his farm in Maine. However, to grow a wider variety of crops, in most cold climates an energy-efficient greenhouse will require some back-up heating. This is usually turned on during a few very cold nights a year — the extreme cold snaps — when a GAHTTM system, thermal mass, or phase change material is not sufficient to keep temperatures high enough.
Our innovative geothermal HVAC Ecoloop™ System is a great option for maintaining appropriate heating, cooling, and dehumidification in a sealed greenhouse.
Residential growers typically add an electric heater for the coldest times of the year. Commercial growers typically integrate propane or electric heat. We can help you integrate a back-up heater when designing your commercial greenhouse.
There are too many variables to give an easy answer to this question. The top two are:
- What are you trying to grow, or what indoor temperatures do you want to maintain?
- What are you typical outdoor temperatures in the winter?
Once we have that information, we can give you a ballpark estimate of how often heat will be required for your situation. For a more accurate estimate and cost projections, you can take advantage of our consulting services.
Finally, it is important to note that an insulated greenhouse, passive solar greenhouse design, and systems like a GAHT™ system, which take advantage of free solar energy, keep the heating requirement to a minimum. Most growers in North America use back-up heating sparingly in the winter, and rely on energy-efficient greenhouse design for most of the year.
Many solar greenhouse designers recommend using a roof angle that is perpendicular to the angle of the sun in the winter. While this does indeed maximize light transmission in the winter, the effect of a lower angle is not severe. We explain this relationship much further in our blog, Choosing the Best Roof Angle for your Greenhouse. Furthermore, there are a few logistical challenges to creating very steep pitch — you cannot use glass view windows on the south; it can reduce head room or create a awkwardly tall greenhouse. Due to these pros and cons, most of our residential growers are built with a shed-style roof. If you have a need for a steeply pitched roof, just ask us about our custom greenhouse design services.
GAHT® System / Climate Battery Questions
“Geothermal” is a broad term meaning heat from the earth. The term applies to many systems, including heat pumps and power plants using hot steam from the earth. GAHT® systems are geothermal too: they use the ‘low-grade’ heat provided by the shallow earth. But, a GAHT® system is NOT the same as a geothermal heat pump, a system commonly used to heat homes and commercial buildings. Heat pumps are more complex systems that use a refrigeration cycle. They circulate a fluid, not air, underground, and use pipes buried very deep — often hundreds of feet — underground. A GAHT® system, in contrast, simply uses a fan and pipe to transfer heat to the soil. GAHT® systems store heat in an insulated volume of soil, usually just 4′ below grade. They are much simpler, less expensive than geothermal heat pumps.
For the most part, yes. Ceres’ Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®) systems and climate batteries are both ground to air heat exchangers. Over the years, different designers have given the system their own names based on their design. Jerome Osentowski and Michael Thompson of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) coined the term Climate Battery. At Ceres, we altered the fan sizes and pipe configuration based on our research and call the system a GAHT® system.
Another similar concept is earth tubes, often called a ground-coupled heat exchanger. These use one-way air flow: they draw air in from outside, pump it underground and then it into the structure (home or greenhouse). A GAHT® system and Climate Battery circulate air in a closed loop: they take air from the greenhouse, pump it underground, and then exhaust it back into the greenhouse.
The average peak cooling load is about 10 times larger than the average heating load of a Ceres highly insulated greenhouse. A GAHT® system can cool between 2-10F degrees compared to outside temperatures, depending on the season. Therefore, the GAHT® system can provide supplemental cooling, but most often will need to be paired with additional cooling techniques for the hottest of days. For sealed greenhouses the GAHT® system alone cannot cool a greenhouse in the summer.
The GAHT® system can provide complete heating in a Ceres Greenhouse in most climates, depending on your heating requirements (45-55F degrees) during the coldest parts of the winter.
The cost of a GAHT® system depends on the size of your greenhouse. Typically, residential GAHT® systems (under 1,000 sq. ft.) cost between $2,000-5,000. Larger commercial greenhouses and school greenhouses typically cost $5,000-$15,000 depending on size.
Our GAHT® plans provide detailed installation instructions for building and installing a GAHT® system. Here is an overview of the process:
- Excavate a pit beneath the greenhouse (before greenhouse construction)
- Build and install the underground pipe network in the excavated pit
- Back-fill the pit. Then construct greenhouse. See our residential building plans for help
- Install fans and wiring inside the greenhouse
For our residential greenhouses, we provide plans, materials lists and instructions for installing a GAHT® system. Armed with these tools, you can install the GAHT® system yourself or easily hire out the work to a contractor. We also provide phone support to answer any question that may come up along the way.
Yes, we can provide all materials for the GAHT® system, including underground pipes, pipe connections, fans and thermostats. A material list is included in our GAHT® plans and instructions. Some growers prefer to purchase the materials on their own; other prefer to have us order and ship them, and pay all at once. Please contact us for a personalized quote your GAHT® system.
Maximum depth for the pipes underground is 4’ deep. This is below the frost line in most climates, and the level where soil temperatures become a stable and moderate temperature year-round.
In locations where the water tables is higher than 4’, we do not recommend using a standard GAHT® system. Other heat storage methods, like phase change material can be used to make your greenhouse as energy-efficient as possible.
The pipes of a GAHT® system have small perforations so any water that collects in the pipes underground can drain out into the soil. Water plays in an important role in how GAHT® systems function. During the day, hot humid air is cooled underground. The temperature reaches the dew point and water condensates in the pipes underground. Through the energy transfer of phase changes, this further cools the air. It also helps water the soil underground, where plants roots are. Essentially, the GAHT® system takes water out of the humid greenhouse air and drops it into the soil underground where it’s useful for growth.
Water does not stagnate in the pipes underground and so mold is not a problem in GAHT® systems. In many years of testing systems in a variety of climates, we have not experienced any issues relating to mold.
Yes, GAHT® systems can function in any type of greenhouse. We recommend using an energy-efficient greenhouse, however. It is by far the most cost effective investment when creating a year-round growing environment.
Radon is a radioactive element that seeps into buildings through the soil. Since a GAHT® system circulates air directly through the soil, a common question is whether the GAHT® system adds a radon risk. In areas with high radon levels, this is a possibility and should be taken seriously. However, greenhouses are less dangerous than conventional buildings when it comes to radon. First, you are not in the greenhouse for as much time. Secondly, greenhouses have very high air exchange rates. During much of the year, air (and any radon) will be ventilated outside, and the whole structure will be flushed with fresh air in a matter of minutes. Even if the ventilation system is not on, greenhouses have many more air exchanges than a standard home, mitigating radon build-up. In our tests of GAHT® systems in the Rocky Mountains (an area with high radon levels), the concentration inside the greenhouse was found to be slightly higher than outdoors, but much lower than a dangerous level. By no means is this a comprehensive study, so if concerned, have your soils tested for radon before installing a GAHT® system.
Small GAHT® systems can be off-grid if you install a solar panel system. We do not provide integrated solar panel systems with GAHT® systems. Solar panels should be installed by a local installer in your area, or on your own if you are qualified.
A solar PV system can be a few thousand dollar investment, which greatly depends on the electric demand of your greenhouse. As an example, a 12 x 20 greenhouse normally includes 2 GAHT® fans, each 120 Watts. Along with exhaust fans, we estimate this greenhouse would have an energy usage of 1,000 kWh per year. In a sunny climate like Colorado, this could be powered by a 600 Watt solar panel system. At current prices (roughly $3.00 per installed Watt) this would cost $1,800 to the greenhouse project. Please note this is a rough estimation based on a typical greenhouse and solar PV system. For a more accurate estimate and to discuss the practicality of powering your greenhouse with solar PV, please contact us.
To date we have never installed a house GAHT® system. This does not mean it is not possible. We just have not installed one. Before considering this option there are two concerns you should be aware of:
Radon can be tested. And even if there is radon, it is more significant to watch the rate at which it accumulates. In the worst case scenario, if radon is detected the GAHT® system can always be shut off.
According to studies that were performed by the University of Minnesota on several GAHT® systems where mold was tested no elevated spores were detected. It is important to keep in mind this is one study, and they were conducted on greenhouses and not homes.
When trying to mitigate mold in the home you could use a filtration system with a UV lamp. It is important to look at ducting system- how to get air through the system. We can help with the design of a new system, but it is harder to work with existing ones.
Understanding these precautions is necessary if you decide to try this system on a house. Please consult us if you are thinking of a house GAHT®.
Ecoloop® Geothermal System
The Ecoloop® system is a two part installation, below grade and above grade. This can be completed by the same contractors or two different contractors. The below grade contractors should be International Ground Source Heat Pump Association certified installers. Above grade work can be completed by a local HVAC contractor.
Ceres is installing the EcoLoop® in only Ceres Greenhouses through the end of 2020. The Ecoloop® has been optimized for high performance and efficiency using specific controls, operating parameters, and smart responses to changing conditions.
Yes. The Ecoloop® system can be run using renewable sources of electricity. Additionally, the Ecoloop® design overall reduces the peak demand load compared to other HVAC systems, helping to reduce the overall size of the energy generation system.
We provide tailored quotes for commercial greenhouses, as each structure is optimized for the climate and growing considerations. Pricing varies according to structure type — commercial greenhouse structures, DIY, or HighYield® Greenhouse Kits – as well as your indoor growing requirements and climate. Please contact us with some information about your project to get a quote.
Our commercial energy-efficient greenhouses are made with galvanized steel frames. Steel is the strongest framing material, and can be insulated in a variety of ways. We combine the frame with insulated metal panels, commonly used in warehouses or large industrial buildings, because of their high insulation values and ease of install.
We use triple wall, 16mm polycarbonate on most of our commercial greenhouses. In colder climates, the triple wall polycarbonate allows us to retain more heat while still allowing in more than enough sunlight. Our polycarbonate is incredibly durable and can stand up to the harshest weather.
We also offer acrylic and ETFE options if full UV is needed. Check out our blog for more glazing options
Our typical commercial greenhouse is a shed-style roof with a single slope. If this does not fit your site, or in cases of very large (over 5,000 sq. ft.) commercial greenhouses, we can potentially investigate other building styles, however our passive solar design does work best for optimal natural light intake. In any case, we work with you to create a custom structure that meets your needs, site and budget.
Our HighYield® Greenhouse Kits use two building depths – 23’ and 30’ – and can be as long as needed. Our custom commercial steel greenhouses are more flexible in sizing and layout, and are typically designed when building codes or other criteria dictate. We have in-house drafters who can draw custom building based on your design needs.
We custom engineer each structure according to your site’s snow and wind loads. This streamlines the building permit process, which we can also help with. We have designed greenhouses with snow loads of up to 85 lbs/square foot, and with wind loads of up to 190 mph.
At Ceres we focus on building the most energy-efficient commercial greenhouses as possible. Our primary heating and cooling method stores the greenhouses’ heat (free thermal energy) in the walls and in the earth below the greenhouse. We are well-known for our GAHT® system, a Ceres designed ground to air heat exchanger, which we have designed for many years all over the world. We also use phase change material. For our sealed greenhouses we offer our Ceres designed Ecoloop® System, which uses earth’s steady temperature to heat, cool, and dehumidify inside the greenhouse. Finally, by using passive solar greenhouse design principles we minimize the heating / cooling load as much as possible, making our commercial greenhouses much easier to regulate and much more cost-effective versus traditional greenhouses. We also integrate back-up heating, cooling and ventilation systems as needed.
Like many commercial greenhouses, we often install gas powered heaters, dehumidifiers, and exhaust fans. Oftentimes, because of the built in efficiencies of our greenhouses and smaller heating and cooling loads that we deal with, we can design smaller systems to save our clients money during initial installation, and because the systems are needed less often, they save money over the long term.
The environmental control equipment and controllers will determine the quality of the products that are grown. The complexity of the control system needs to match the complexity and variety of climate control solutions used.
A greenhouse with a few circulation and exhaust fans plus thermostats can run for about $100. If the GAHT® system is employed, then humidity controls (humidification and dehumidification) and wet walls are used for cooling, and an automated controller with online system access and data storage is a good choice.
In highly sophisticated greenhouses with high end climate control solutions for high value crops the most sophisticated control system might be the best choice. Every aspect of these greenhouse can be controlled from anywhere and data analysis packages are available to optimize yields and profits. These systems cost somewhere between $3 and $10/sqft.
Whatever your climate control needs might be, we provide a whole systems design to ensure that everything is appropriately and efficiently integrated.
Yes. We source growing systems and equipment from high-quality suppliers, according to your needs. These include:
- Hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems
- Black out / light deprivation systems – read more here
- Shade systems
- Irrigation systems
You can see some of the companies we work with on our partners page. We work directly with suppliers to ensure that growing systems integrate seamlessly with the greenhouse structure, handling all the planning and details for you.
The time it takes to recoup the investment of a greenhouse depends on many factors including: crop grown, operational cost and market demand. It is important to conduct market research, and evaluate which crops would be most profitable in your area and in which season. Another factor to take into consideration is the grow system, and how long the grow process will take, resulting in numbers of harvests per year. The more harvests the more sellable product.
Commercial greenhouse facilities can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months from conceptual design to operation. This process includes design, engineering, material orders, construction and commissioning. There are many project-specific variables, like site approval, building permit, facility size, local building season, headhouse buildout, custom features, etc. Not all factors are a requirement in every project and thus a project-specific timeline is determined for each client.
Yield is primarily driven by the growing systems and climate control systems selected. It will be important to conduct research on the growing system options for the crops you are hoping to grow (which systems will enable the highest yields, etc.). Ceres provides the mechanism for year-round growing in addition to the design and implementation of the necessary climate controls for each grow operation.
The utilization rate of a greenhouse is usually around 80% (without the headhouse for commercial veggie processing).
As an example, 12 small basil plant starts can be grown per sqft, whereas 1 full grown tomato plant can be grown in 4-8 sqft.
We follow a strict process starting from design through to materials orders and project management in an effort to deliver the most comprehensive and predictable product. Change orders sometimes occur in this process, so we suggest putting a budget of 10%- 20% aside at the start of the project. It is important to keep in mind that each step of the process requires sign off and changes require approval. A change order can be $0, a positive number, or sometimes a negative amount.
The cost of a year round greenhouse depends on a lot of things, primarily the size, how you source the materials and who builds it. To give you a general idea, some growers use recycled materials and do all the work themselves and spend as little as a few hundred dollars for a residential solar greenhouse. More commonly, growers buy new materials that will last longer, and outsource some or most of the work. A common range is to spend $5,000 to $30,000 for a durable and energy-efficient backyard greenhouse. Ceres greenhouses are often $70-75/sq. ft for materials.
This varies greatly by location, and what you are trying to grow. In areas with mild winters, passive solar greenhouses can grow year-round without any back-up heating. Greenhouses in cold areas can even grow very hardy crops year-round without heating. However, to grow a wider variety of crops, in most cold climates an energy-efficient greenhouse will require some back-up heating. This is usually turned on during a few very cold nights a year — the extreme cold snaps — when a GAHT® system, thermal mass, or phase change material is not sufficient to keep temperatures high enough.
Residential growers typically add an electric heater for the coldest times of the year. Commercial growers typically integrate propane or electric heat. We can help you integrate a back-up heater when designing your commercial greenhouse.
Yes! Attached greenhouses have many advantages, such as provide passive solar heating for the home. However, they require specialized materials and air exchanges for an energy-efficient structure. Depending on the project, we will sometimes team with architects and local contractors in building durable, beautiful and efficient greenhouses.
Many solar greenhouse designers recommend using a roof angle that is perpendicular to the angle of the sun in the winter. While this does indeed maximize light transmission in the winter, the effect of a lower angle is not severe. We explain this relationship much further in our blog, Choosing the Best Roof Angle for your Greenhouse. Furthermore, there are a few logistical challenges to creating very steep pitch — you cannot use glass view windows on the south; it can reduce head room or create a awkwardly tall greenhouse. Due to these pros and cons, most of our residential growers are built with a shallow angle roof. If you have a need for a steeply pitched roof, just ask us.
Yes, we work with clients all over the world. Our standard greenhouse plans, and custom designs can be applied to greenhouses in any location. We often customize the greenhouse to optimize performance for year-round growing in your climate.
Easy shipping anywhere in the US and Canada. If you are elsewhere please contact us for a shipping cost estimate.
You can install a HighYield® Kit yourself, or hire installation out to a local contractor. You can also opt to have a Ceres construction supervisor oversee the construction process and direct your building crew.
This depends on your level on construction experience. Assembling a HighYield® Kit requires significant construction experience, and a crew of at least 3 people. You can get a sense of the steps needed to build a HighYield® kit from our video. The following equipment and tools are required to install a HighYield® Kit:
- Hammer drill
- Boom lift with forks and cage
- Circular saw with metal blade
- Corded impact driver
If you have experience with those tools, you can probably build a HighYield® Kit on your own. We still recommend hiring one of Ceres Construction Managers to assist with the process.
Our Backyard Kits start at 12k. Due to the specific complexity of each project, prices on the website serve only as approximate amounts.
Available in lengths of 6’ increments. Pricing for the 18’x24’, for example, is US$28,980 with shipping estimated at 20%-25% of total materials cost (excluding applicable taxes). Optional upgrades are available as well.
Because each greenhouse is slightly different – tailored for your climate and growing goals—we provide custom quotes for all our energy-efficient commercial greenhouses.
Estimated base kit pricing for a 30’x50′ modular greenhouse kit, for example, is US$42 – US$47/sqft (excluding shipping and taxes). We estimate US$100-US$130/sqft for complete vented greenhouse (stamped drawings, materials, equipment + construction). This is a great budgetary number to use when considering all of your systems, including the incorporation of those mentioned below.
Plans, available in several sizes up to a 12’x24′, can be purchased from our web store for US$750 and include all you need to construct your greenhouse with our support throughout the process. We estimate US$68-US$70 / sqft for materials. While building and labor costs vary greatly based on your geographic location, should you choose to hand this project off to a local builder, we estimate US$130- US$150 for all materials (both greenhouse and GAHT®) and labor.
Yes, we offer our own renewable heating/cooling system, as well as other climate control and growing systems.
Growing systems are customized according to growers’ needs, and specified after a consultation. Ceres will design and source:
- Hydroponic and aquaponic systems
- Light deprivation systems (if needed)
- Supplemental lighting, automated shade systems
- Climate control and HVAC equipment
- Monitoring systems
- Water Reclamation and Filtering systems
Ceres Greenhouses are modular by design. Both greenhouses and headhouses (indoor areas for plant processing, administrative work, storage, etc.) can be expanded at a later point. However, corridor-connected designs are more suitable for expansion because they won’t disrupt existing operations.
It is advisable to let the Ceres engineers know ahead of time if you are considering expanding the greenhouses or headhouses at a later point. That way our engineers can design the best options upfront (at no or very little extra cost to the client), which will allow the client to save a lot of time and money when the time for expansion comes.
Yes, in addition to the glazing for the roof, we source for you:
- Phase change material
- Ventilation Systems: Exhaust Fans and Controls
- Materials for our GAHT® or Ecoloop™ systems
We provide all materials for steel kits, or custom commercial greenhouses. For our residential solar greenhouses, the framing material is typically wood, and this is sourced locally, by you or a contractor. We provide DIY greenhouse plans, but do not ship wood framing materials.
Yes, we ship greenhouse materials to your site. In some cases, we may use a local distributor and have materials available for pick-up at a nearby store to allow for easier pick-up and cost savings.
Yes, Polygal polycarbonate comes with a 10-year warranty and Lexan polycarbonate comes with a 15-20 year warranty.
Foundation & Floors
This depends on the size of your commercial greenhouse. For more on basic greenhouse foundation types see our blog, Greenhouse Foundations. We work with engineers who can design your greenhouse foundation. However, because structural engineers are licensed by state, we oftentimes work with a structural engineer that you find in your area so that they will have be able to stamp the drawings in the state you are building in.
Whether or not the greenhouse needs a foundation depends on size, it’s location and the snow and wind loads. Small solar greenhouses do not need a foundation. They can be built on a level base (dirt or gravel) and anchored to the ground using rebar or products called earth anchors. For moderate to large residential greenhouses (over 120 sq. ft.) we recommend adding a foundation. Foundations can often be simple concrete piers. More about them and other foundation types in our blog “Greenhouse Foundations.”
We offer consulting on choosing a foundation type and recommend hiring a contractor to install the foundation.
This predominantly depends on how you want to grow. If growing with aquaponics, hydroponics, or in a commercial greenhouse with potted plants, concrete floors provide a clean surface to -efficient greenhouses do not need a floor. This is because the perimeter of the greenhouse is insulated. The soil below ground stays a warm constant temperature year-round. Normally, raised beds connect directly to the soil below ground. This is best for drainage and robust root growth. Flooring materials can be used in walkways. We recommend gravel, flagstone, or pavers. If planning to grow on tables, or with an aquaponics system, you may elect to install a concrete slab to create a level floor (this can also serve as your foundation). More information in our blog “Three types of floors for a greenhouse”.
Concrete floors are not necessary in the greenhouse. Earthen and/or gravel floors are also commonly used. However, this is mainly dependent on how you would like to grow, and which growing systems you are planning to use. When using Hydroponics and/or Aquaponics, a level, concrete slab is highly recommended. Another benefit of concrete floors is they can be properly cleaned, which is especially important if you intend to sell plants commercially.
Solar Panels, Electricity and Water
This depends on what type of systems you want to use for growing, and controlling the greenhouse environment. Typically, our residential greenhouse growers install electricity in the greenhouse to run fans and lights if necessary. These have a very small power draw but do require electrical hook-up. The simplest option is to wire the greenhouse to the home. Another option (though usually more expensive) is to install a solar panel system to run the electrical components.
You can also build a completely passive solar greenhouse – one that does not use any electrical components. For this we recommend using passive solar vent openers to provide automated ventilation. There are several pros and cons to building a passive solar greenhouse vs. an active one. Much more information on solar panel systems and passive solar greenhouse is in our book, The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse as well as “Integrating Solar Panels into the Greenhouse.”
There are a few different ways to handle watering in a residential greenhouse. These depend on the size and water requirement of the structure (climate dependent). They vary from a water hook-up (spigot) to using self-watering growing beds. For more see “Solar Greenhouse Basics: Watering Systems.”
Our greenhouses utilize passive solar design, called ‘solar greenhouses’ for short. Passive solar greenhouses are designed to maximize heating from the sun, to create an efficient self-sustaining year-round growing environment. While they can be powered by a solar PV (solar panels), Standard models do not include solar panels (photovoltaic systems). We can help you integrate solar panels into your design to make the greenhouse completely self-powered, net-zero energy or off-grid. Please see our blog, “Integrating Solar Panels with the greenhouse” for our tips on doing this.
Finance Your Greenhouse
Looking for financial help?
We can help you find funding for your greenhouse project.